Mark Hillman: Recommendations for Colorado ballot questions
For Craig Press
Here’s my plain-and-simple explanation of and recommendation for statewide issues on the Colorado ballot for 2022.
Amendment D, New 23rd Judicial District Judges. In 2020, the legislature created the new 23rd Judicial District by removing Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties from the 18th Judicial District. This amendment makes it easier to assign some judges from the 18th to the 23rd Judicial District. I will vote yes.
Amendment E, Property Tax Exemption for Gold-Star Spouses. The existing property tax exemption for seniors and disabled veterans would be extended to include surviving spouses of U.S. service members who died in the line of duty or from service-related causes. I will vote yes.
Amendment F, Charitable Gaming. Currently, nonprofits that have existed for at least five years can receive a license to conduct bingo and raffles for charity. This measure would reduce the licensing requirement from five years to three and allow the legislature to further reduce that requirement. It would also allow charity workers to be paid. I don’t see the problem in existing law, so I will vote no.
Proposition FF, Free Public School Meals. The “tax your neighbor” lobby is again trying to undermine Colorado’s flat-rate income tax by increasing taxes on any Coloradan with income over $300,000 to create a program to make public school meals “free” to all students and to increase pay to food-service workers. FF is absolutely a scheme to figure out what it will take to get Coloradans to raise taxes on “the rich,” like California does. Today, 37% of students, mostly from low-income families, are eligible for free or reduced-cost meals at school. So why increase taxes by $100 million to provide free lunches to middle- and upper-income families who already pay their own way? Our flat tax is fundamentally fair, and this program is unnecessary. I will vote no.
Proposition GG, Tax Information in Blue Book. Special interests want to be sure that anytime a tax cut comes to a vote, the ballot information booklet (aka “Blue Book”) includes a chart showing the average savings to taxpayers at different income levels. They think voters won’t vote for a small tax cut if it will save each taxpayer only a few bucks. However, those small amounts add up to big bucks to pay for bigger government. This year’s Blue Book provides the exact chart that Prop GG would require so we obviously don’t need a new law. I will vote no.
Proposition 121, Income Tax Rate Reduction. Amends Colorado statutes to reduce the state income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.40%. Certain state lawmakers don’t like it when Colorado citizens put the brakes on government to make even a modest reduction in taxation. Those same lawmakers shamelessly pass numerous “fee” increases to avoid asking voter permission. Prop 121 would reduce state government revenue by an estimated $382 million, a small amount compared to the new fees imposed without our consent. I will vote yes.
Proposition 122, Legalize Psychedelic Drugs. Much of Colorado’s current decline traces back to legalizing so-called “medical marijuana” in 2000 and recreational marijuana in 2012 which led to more drug use by adults and easier access by kids. Some “doctors” signed medical marijuana cards for anybody who could say, “Ouch!” Proponents of 122 are using the same strategy, calling this initiative “access to natural medicine,” a euphemism for psychedelic mushrooms. The last thing Colorado needs is more legalized drugs. I will vote no.
Proposition 123, Income Tax for Affordable Housing. Dedicates 0.1% of state income tax receipts to fund “affordable housing programs.” Most problems related to housing affordability are the direct result of short-sighted laws passed by local and state governments. Giving those same governments more money to “fix” the problems they created is “like giving liquor and car keys to teenage boys.” I will vote no.
Proposition 124, Liquor Licenses. Prior to 2017, a person could own just one liquor store; the limit increased to three this year. Prop 124 would immediately allow ownership of eight liquor stores and later eliminate any limit whatsoever. Competition usually drives down prices, right? Well, it’s hard to argue that Colorado lacks competition with nearly 1,600 liquor stores across the state. Even my small hometown has three times more liquor stores than grocery stores. Plus, some liquor distributors prefer to supply only big box stores but not mom-and-pop shops. I will vote no.
Proposition 125, Wine in Grocery and Convenience Stores. When I’ve shopped at grocery stores that sell wine, it seems their prices are higher than the neighborhood liquor store. If convenience is your primary consideration, vote yes. If you prefer to buy from the neighborhood liquor store, vote no.
Proposition 126, Delivery of Alcohol. Allows anyone who can legally sell alcohol to also contract with delivery services to deliver alcohol to customers. I really don’t care.
Mark Hillman served as Senate majority leader and state treasurer. For more, go to MarkHillman.com.
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